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Panama Hattie

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Title: Panama Hattie  
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Subject: Cole Porter, Ethel Merman, Lena Horne, Arthur Freed, Betty Hutton
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Panama Hattie

Panama Hattie
Music Cole Porter
Lyrics Cole Porter
Book Herbert Fields
B. G. DeSylva
Productions 1940 Broadway
1942 Film
1943 West End
1954 U.S. Television

Panama Hattie is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Herbert Fields and B. G. DeSylva. It is also the title of a 1942 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical film based upon the play. The title is a play on words, referring to the popular Panama hat.


  • Productions 1
  • Plot 2
  • Songs 3
  • Adaptations 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
  • Reception 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Pre-Broadway tryouts started at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven on October 3, 1940, and then at the Shubert Theatre, Boston on October 8, 1940.[1]

The musical premiered on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre on October 30, 1940 and closed on January 3, 1942 after 501 performances. It was directed by Edgar MacGregor, with choreography by Robert Alton[2] and scenic design and costumes by Raoul Pène Du Bois. The cast featured Ethel Merman as Hattie, Arthur Treacher as Vivian, Betty Hutton as Florrie, James Dunn as Nick, Phyllis Brooks as Leila, Joan Carroll as Geraldine, Rags Ragland as Woozy, and Pat Harrington as Skat.[1] Among the dancers were June Allyson,[3] Doris Dowling and Constance Dowling,[4] Betsy Blair, Lucille Bremer and Vera-Ellen.[2]

The show opened in the

External links

  • Schwartz, Charles. "Chapter: Inner Turmoil" Cole Porter: a biography, pp. 207–08, Da Capo Press, 1979, ISBN 0-306-80097-7

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c "'Panama Hattie' production listing", accessed January 11, 2011
  2. ^ a b Green, Stanley and Green, Kay. "'Panama Hattie'" Broadway Musicals, Show By Show (5 ed.), Hal Leonard Corporation, 1996, ISBN 0-7935-7750-0, p. 111
  3. ^ "'Panama Hattie' history" TCM, accessed January 11, 2011
  4. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang. "Doris Dowling, 81, Is Dead; Known for Classic Films of 40's" New York Times, June 28, 2004
  5. ^ "'Panama Hattie' production, Synopsis, Musical Numbers", accessed January 11, 2011
  6. ^ "'Panama Hattie', London Production"., accessed January 12, 2011
  7. ^ Shane, Emma. "Panama Hattie". Louise Gold website, accessed March 29, 2011
  8. ^ Propst, Andy. "'Panama Hattie' Musicals Tonight! at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre Backstage, October 15, 2010
  9. ^ "Panama Hattie; 1954 Television Production", accessed January 11, 2011
  10. ^ Atkinson, Brooks. "The Play: 'Panama Hattie'" New York Times, October 31, 1940
  11. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. "Chapter Four" Through the Screen Door: What Happened to the Broadway Musical When it Went to Hollywood, Scarecrow Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8108-5018-4, p. 66


"'Panama Hattie' was a typical example of turning a routine musical comedy into entertainment gold. Without her [Merman] there was no show, and the musical has rarely been heard of since."[11]

Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times wrote that "By hiring a trio of knockabout comedians, Mr. De Sylva has given it all the advantages of a burlesque show...Everything is noisy, funny and in order." Merman "rolls though it with the greatest gusto, giving it a shake and a gleam and plenty of syncopation...The Merman hangs bangles on any song that comes her way." [10]


The Best of Broadway series broadcast a version of Panama Hattie on CBS Television on November 10, 1954. Ethel Merman, Ray Middleton, and Art Carney starred.[9]




Panama Hattie Original Broadway Production[1]



The sailors from the S. S. Idaho uncover a spy plot involving saboteurs. Hattie swears off rum ("Make It Another Old Fashioned Please"). Hattie has it out with Kitty-Belle, whose boyfriend keeps being called in whenever Hattie is on the verge of hitting her. Meanwhile, Florrie continues to try to attract the romantic attention of Budd ("All I’ve Got to Get Now is My Man"). Hattie, two of the sailors and Budd meet regarding these various threads ("You Said It"). Mildred Hunter, Kitty-Belle’s best friend, turns out to be a terrorist ("Who would Have Dreamed"). She gives Jerry a secret package to put in Nick’s desk. Fortunately, Hattie overhears the plot to blow up the Panama Canal control room, finds the bomb and throws it out, saving the day. The grateful Admiral Whitney retracts his order and the sailors praise Hattie ("God Bless the Woman").

Act II

Florrie, a singer in the night club, develops a crush on Nick's very proper butler Vivian Budd ("Fresh as a Daisy"). Nick’s efforts to persuade Jerry and Hattie to get along with each other finally succeed, with Jerry making the still hungover Hattie cut the bows off her dress and shoes ("Let’s Be Buddies"). Jerry gives Hattie advice on how to behave like a lady at a party where she is to be presented to Nick’s boss, the Admiral ("I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight"). Admiral Randolph is to be presented with a cup, and his daughter Kitty-Belle suggests that Hattie might present it filled with goldenrod. This gives Whitney hay fever; Hattie is blamed, and Nick is ordered not to marry Hattie.

Hattie Maloney owns a night club in the

Act I


The musical was revived for several performances as a staged concert at Barbican Cinema 1 in London in 1996 as part of the "Discovering Lost Musicals" series directed and produced by Ian Marshall-Fisher. Louise Gold starred as Hattie, with Jon Glover as Windy.[7] "Musicals Tonight!" series presented a staged concert of the musical in New York City in October 2010.[8]


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